Michigan LLC name
The first step to checking if your LLC name passes, is to make sure your name is not already taken by another business.
You can do this using the Business Entity Database. And you need to do this because two businesses in the state can’t have the same name or be too similar.
The second step is to make sure your LLC name follows the state rules, which we’ve broken down below.
How do I search the Michigan business name database?
You can use the Business Entity Database to search your business name against the existing businesses registered in Michigan.
Note: The Business Entity Database is maintained by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) in the Corporations Division.
Visit the Michigan Business Entity Search page:
- Type your desired LLC name in the “Search by Entity Name” field.
- For the “Search type” dropdown menu, leave it on “Begins With”.
- Leave out “LLC”, “L.L.C.”, etc., when doing your searches.
- Leave out any commas, periods, apostrophes, etc.
- You can search using uppercase or lowercase letters.
Tip: It’s best to search only part of your desired Michigan business name. For example, if your desired LLC name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, first do a search for the words “Riverwalk Studio“. And then do a search for “Riverwalk”. This helps make sure that you see everything that is potentially similar.
How to interpret the Michigan business name search results
If the results show names that are not too similar to yours (meaning yours is distinguishable), then your LLC name is available for use.
- Let’s keep using the example above. If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the only similar names you saw were “Riverwalk Study Agency” and “Riverwalk Studio Starters“, then your name should be available.
If no results show up, that means your LLC name is unique and it should be available for use. To be safe, run your business name search again using only part of your LLC name (to double-check that there are no similar names).
- For example, search just the word “Riverwalk” instead of Riverwalk Studios.
If your exact LLC name appears in the list, your LLC name is not available for use because another business is already using it.
If the results show a name that is very similar to yours, your LLC name may not be available for use.
- If your desired name is Riverwalk Studios LLC, and the search results show a “Riverwalk Studio”, then your name is not available.
What if my desired LLC name isn’t available?
If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different LLC name.
Note: Wait until your LLC is approved before you apply for your LLC EIN Number, reserve a domain name (web address), or purchase any other marketing materials. This way you don’t spend money on business supplies you can’t use because your business name isn’t available.
When in doubt, call the Secretary of State
We also recommend calling the Michigan Secretary of State to confirm that your LLC name is available.
Not all states offer this service, but the representatives in Michigan will tell you whether or not you can use your business name.
Their phone number is 517-241-6470. Their hours are Monday through Friday, from 8am to 5pm Eastern Time.
Michigan LLC name requirements
As per Section 450.4204 of the Michigan LLC Act, there are a few rules and requirements for naming Limited Liability Companies that you need to know.
Do I have to use a comma in my LLC name?
No, you don’t have to. You can file your LLC name with or without a comma. Both versions are accepted by the state.
For example: If your desired Michigan business name is Grandpa Joe’s, you can file it as:
- Grandpa Joe’s LLC
- Grandpa Joe’s, LLC
Or, instead of having “LLC” as your designator (ending), there are a few other options in Michigan.
What designators (endings) can I use in my LLC name?
Your Michigan LLC name must contain one of the following designators at the end:
- Limited Liability Company
Note: Most people choose “LLC”.
The following designators are not allowed
Your Michigan LLC can’t make itself sound like a Michigan Corporation or any other legal entity besides an LLC.
The following words and designators can’t be used anywhere in your LLC name:
What words are not allowed in my Michigan LLC name?
Your Michigan LLC name can’t contain words and abbreviations that are restricted by law.
For example, you can’t make your LLC name sound like it’s a bank, part of the government, or anything else that misleads the public.
You also can’t use words that are reserved for licensed professionals. These vary by state, but some common examples are accountants, architects, attorneys, dentists, and engineers.
For a full list of words restricted in Michigan, please see this PDF: Michigan Secretary of State: Restricted Words.
Your Michigan business name must be distinguishable (unique)
When you search the Business Entity Database, you will compare your desired LLC name to existing businesses in the state.
If your name is not unique, you’ll need to come up with a variation or a different business name.
Below are rules and examples of LLC names that are not distinguishable.
Tip: You can call the Michigan Secretary of State to confirm that your LLC name is available. Their phone number is 517-241-6470. And their hours are Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm Eastern Time.
Differences in designators (endings) don’t create distinguishability.
If your desired LLC name is Jake’s Fishing Company LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found in the database search results:
- Jake’s Fishing Company, Inc.
- Jake’s Fishing Company, Corp.
- Jake’s Fishing Company, L.L.C.
Adding non-meaningful or filler words (the, a, an, and, &, of, or) won’t create distinguishability.
If your desired LLC name is Pleasant Farms LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:
- The Pleasant Farms LLC
- A Pleasant Farm Inc.
- Pleasant and Farms L.L.C.
- Pleasant & Farms Corp
Differences in capitalization don’t create distinguishability.
If your desired LLC name is Drum and Bass LLC, it’s not available to use if any of the following are found:
- drum and bass Inc.
- drum and BASS LP
- or dRuM aNd BaSs LLC
Said another way, you’re allowed to use any capitalization you want. It just doesn’t make your name distinguishable from an existing company with the same name.
Exception: Plural or Singular Words
In Michigan, plural or singular words make a business name distinguishable.
If your desired LLC name is Big Pine Sled Company LLC, it is still available to use even if you find the following in the business name search results:
- Big Pines Sled Company LLC
- Big Pine Sleds Company LLC
- Big Pines Sleds Company LLC
What if my Michigan business name is unavailable?
If you file your LLC Articles of Organization (the document that creates your Michigan LLC) and the business name is not available, don’t panic. The state will notify you and tell you why your filing was rejected.
You will just need to file again with a variation of your LLC name or a different LLC name. If you re-file your Articles of Organization within 60 days, you won’t have to pay the state fee again.
Want to watch a video tutorial instead?
The video below shows you how to search LLC names in Michigan.
- The video starts with LLC name rules in Michigan. Then at the 8 minute and 20 seconds mark (8:20), you can see LLC name searches being completed.
- The state has updated the design of their database since we made this video. However, the way you search an LLC name is still the same.
Michigan Business Name FAQs
No, you’re not required to file a DBA (“Doing Business As”) for your LLC in Michigan.
A DBA (also known as an Assumed Name in Michigan) lets your LLC conduct business under a name which is different from its true and legal name (the name on your Articles of Organization).
If you want your LLC to do business under a name that’s different from its true and legal name, you have to file a Certificate of Assumed Name with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). You can file the Assumed Name application online or by mail (mail filings are easier). The fee is $25 and your Michigan DBA needs to be renewed every 5 years.
If you are going to file a DBA for your Michigan business, it must also be distinguishable from the names of existing businesses in the state.
There is no limit to the number of DBAs an LLC can have.
For more information, please see Does my LLC need a DBA?
When would my LLC use a DBA?
Let’s say you form an LLC called Brandi’s Hair Salon LLC, but you also want a friendlier, catchy name, like Brandi’s Braids. In this case, your LLC would need to file a Certificate of Assumed Name to use the name Brandi’s Braids.
Similarly, if you want to do business under the name Brandi’s Hair Salon, just without the letters “LLC” in the name, you will need to file a DBA for Brandi’s Hair Salon.
Once you’ve found a business name that you like, it’s a good idea to check if the domain name is available before forming your LLC.
You can search for your domain name with GoDaddy:
Find a domain name
Business entity names must be “distinguishable upon the records” of the Secretary of State.
This means that no two businesses can operate with the same exact name. Said another way, if a business already exists with your desired LLC name, you can’t register your LLC with that name.
For example, let’s say you want to form an LLC called Brandi’s Hair Salon LLC. But there is already a business in another town called Brandi’s Hair Salon, Inc. Because your desired LLC name is the same as that existing Michigan Corporation, it is not distinguishable. You can’t use it and must choose another name.
The name of your Michigan LLC can be your company’s brand name, but it doesn’t have to be (please see the DBA section above). Either way, picking a good LLC name is an important decision.
Here are some quick tips:
- First, write down the features of your company and things that you want to be associated with.
- Then list out as many business names as you can think of. Don’t edit or analyze them. Just get as many names on the page as you can.
- Now go back and read through them. Write down any variations that come to mind.
- Next, set the list aside. Do something else, like go for a walk or get groceries, or sleep on it for the night. Then come back and review the list of names. As you go through it, write down additional ideas and variations.
- Read the whole list out loud. If you want, get input from friends, business partners, and family.
- Repeat the process: sleep on the ideas, write down new variations, read them out loud again.
- The best business name will often “rise off the page” and present itself. If it doesn’t, you can try this trick: Close your eyes and count to 10. When you get to 10, you must choose a name. When you open your eyes, force yourself to make a decision. Sometimes we know the best name deep in our subconscious, and this trick can help it come out. Trust yourself and go with what feels best.
No, a name reservation isn’t required to form an LLC in Michigan. It’s an unnecessary step and a waste of money.
You can just file your LLC’s Articles of Organization with your desired LLC name.
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Michigan:
- Choose an LLC name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your Michigan Registered Agent
- File the Michigan LLC Articles of Organization
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in Michigan
Next Step: Michigan Registered Agent
Once you find a Michigan business name that is unique, you’re ready to select your LLC’s Registered Agent. We’ll discuss this in the next lesson: Michigan Registered Agent.
Michigan LLC Act: Section 450.4204
Michigan LLC Act: Section 450.4205
Michigan LLC Act: Section 450.4206
Michigan Secretary of State: Restricted words
Michigan Secretary of State: Reserving a name
Michigan Secretary of State: Entrepreneurs Guide
Michigan Secretary of State: Reserve a Name Form
Michigan Secretary of State: Business Entity Search FAQ
Michigan Secretary of State: Naming a Limited Liability Company